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INTERNATIONALS GIRLS SOCCER CLUB A HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE

INTERNATIONALS GIRLS SOCCER CLUB A HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE

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21

Dec, 2018

Pair of Internationals SC Alumni Make an Impact at Gardner-Webb

Maggie Mae Everett and Gabby Berkes are a dynamic duo that have made a major impact in the collegiate game.  Everett, a senior, and Berkes, a freshman, have shone during their time at Gardner-Webb University. 

It should come as no surprise that Mike Varga, head women's soccer coach at Gardner-Webb, had a lot of nice things to say about the pair.  It started with Everett, who just finished her fourth season with the Bulldogs. 

"I can’t say enough good things about Maggie Mae and what she has meant to this program in her four years,” Varga commented. “Maggie is the definition of student-athlete and what being a teammate is all about.  Maggie has represented the soccer program in a first-class manner and has represented Gardner-Webb University in a first-class manner.  She is a true friend to her teammates has poured herself into the university with her involvement.  She has done all this while excelling in the classroom."

The Medina, Ohio native appeared in 42 games, registering one goal and two assists during her time with the university. On the other hand, Berkes just completed her first season at Gardner-Webb. 

"Gabby is a joy to be around,” Varga added. “She has tremendous talent as a soccer player which is matched by how hard she works.  You can always rely on Gabby for a smile and she will play at vital role as a leader on this team in the future.  I have already seen growth as a soccer player in the short amount of time that Gabby has been at Gardner-Webb University and I look forward to seeing her continue to grow and play a vital role as we move forward."

The Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio native appeared in 13 matches this fall, tallying one assist. Berkes saw many positives in her first season, including making it to the conference championship for just the second time in program history. 

“This season myself and the other freshman were able to bring in a level of competition to this team. I think that our freshman class came in fit and challenged older players to stop getting comfortable in their positions. Our freshman class is deep and talented, I think that it will become more and more evident as younger players have to step into roles that upperclassmen filled before. I also think that I came in with the ability to play at a high level due to the training that I received from playing with the Internationals for so many years and the ability to play against solid players from exposure in the ECNL.”

Playing in the Big South isn’t easy as the conference is known as one of the country’s toughest.

“The conference was super competitive this year.  At any time, either team could've won the game.  This year we happened to come out on top pretty consistently, but we all had a sense that if we didn't play our best game, the other team could come out and take it from us.”

But this is just the beginning for Berkes and she already has her sights set on the future.

“This offseason my goal is to keep up my stamina,” Berkes mentioned. “Right now we're off as far as organized trainings, but I make sure to get in my cardio at the gym and keep getting touches on the ball.  A big portion of the guys team plays pick-up every day, and playing with the guys forces me to make quicker decisions on the ball, which has been helpful and enjoyable. Pick-up is an environment that I can make mistakes and work hard in and has really reminded me why I fell in love with the game of soccer as a kid.  As far as the 2019 season, the goal is to make it to another conference championship.  We're losing a lot of impactful seniors, but at the same time I know that we have the depth to fill in the roles.  Of course with that, there will be some time to get adjusted to the new chemistry, but I'm confident that we can continue to be dominant in the Big South Conference.”

With a year under her belt, Berkes is ready to contribute in an even bigger way.  She is a player that any coach would love to have in their program.

“I would describe myself as technically solid, hardworking, feisty, quick, and aware,” Berkes said. “I have the ability to read the game well which helps me to anticipate passes and intercept them with a quick burst of speed.  Technical skills have always been one of my strengths due to the focus placed on them starting at a very young age playing with ISC.  I would definitely describe my playing style as possession based, also thanks to Internationals.  My strength is playing center midfield, preferably the 8, which gets to attack and defend equally.” 

Both Everett and Berkes had impressive youth careers going into college.  A four-year starter on her high school team, Everett was an OHSAA Scholar Athlete Award winner and the Adidas Showcase MVP.  Her Internationals SC ECNL team finished second in the North American National Championship. After two strong seasons at the high school level, Berkes focused exclusively on club soccer, playing for the Internationals’ ECNL team.  She played on a team ranked in the top-five nationally and went undefeated in both the fall of 2016 and 2017.   Her Internationals squad also made an appearance in the 2016 ECNL national playoffs and were the 2015 Super Y League nationals runner-ups.

The experience in the ECNL was a major plus for Berkes.

“Playing in the ECNL I grew as a player so much,” Berkes said. “Playing against such great other players forced me to play at a high level and to be adaptable.  I learned that I wouldn't always be the fastest or most talented player out there, but I always had to work the hardest.  I became smarter, faster, and able to read the game because of the speed of play.”

Getting to play for a club like Internationals SC also helped her develop as a player. 

“Internationals SC prepared me in so many aspects to play at the DI level,” Berkes continued. “The high-level training environment is like no other, every practice the coaches and players pushed me to be my best.  I was forced to be smart, play quick, and work hard.  There were no easy practices or getting by not giving your best.  It didn't matter who you were, how long you were on the team, or if you always started, you were held accountable for your actions and your performance the day before.  I am so grateful for that environment because it truly taught me humbleness and hard work.  If I could go back to my nine-year-old self and do it all over again I would.  Internationals SC shaped me into the player and person I am today, not to mention, I made my lifelong best friends.”

Berkes gave a lot of credit to both Keri Sarver and Zdravko Popovic.

“Keri and Zdravko are family to me.  I know that if I needed either of them for absolutely anything they'd pick up the phone, and that's a special thing.  They taught me values that other people just talk about through their actions and how they run the club.  I learned determination, grit, respect, how to hold myself and others to a high standard, and so much more.  Internationals SC truly is a family.  They taught me that the things that I learned on the field apply off of it, even more so.  They don't just train soccer players, they help shape strong, independent, young women.”

Sarver is proud of what the pair has accomplished over the years. 

“We love stories of former club mates at Internationals who move on to play together in college.  It is especially rewarding hearing about their shared values and connection from their club days. A big congratulations to Maggie Everett for an excellent career at GWU on and off the field. She was a solid contributor to the success of her team during her club career.  She plays the game with respect, discipline, and brought an excellent work ethic.  Gabby Berkes is an excellent example of how far hard work, commitment, and perseverance can take you.  She joined our club at U9 and was mature beyond her years.  Her focus and soccer IQ were above her peers and as time went on, the athleticism of other players balanced that out, but Gabby figured out ways to remain patient while working even harder and smarter to remain competitive with some of the top players in the country.  I loved her approach to every session and every game – she knew her role, never complained, and just got to work.  Her positive energy is contagious and we have no doubt that she will continue to thrive during her next three years at GWU.  We are thrilled for Maggie and Gabby that they found an excellent fit academically, athletically, and socially at the college level.”

Everett and Berkes are just that: strong, independent, young women that have made an impact at every level, including high school, youth, and college.  The sky's literally the limit for this pair on and off the field. 

Photo Credit: Jeff Sochko and Tim Cowie

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